derGoldstein writes: ABCNews has a story of a toy RC truck that was upgraded with a camera and saved lives: "The little truck was used by the troops to run ahead of them on patrols and look for roadside bombs. Fessenden has had it since 2007, when Ernie and Kevin Guy, the owner of the Everything Hobby shop in Rochester, rigged it with a wireless video camera and shipped it to him.... Last week, it paid off. Chris Fessenden said he had loaned the truck to a group of fellow soldiers, who used it to check the road ahead of them on a patrol. It got tangled in a trip wire connected to what Fessenden guesses could have been 500 lbs. of explosives. The bomb went off. The six soldiers controlling the truck from their Humvee were unhurt". (link contains video) This really begs the question: why are hobbyists ahead of the military with something like this, using consumer technology?
derGoldstein writes: Discovery has an article about a robot that gets rid of landmines, not by using sensors to pinpoint their location, but by rotating a giant cylinder covered in tungsten hammers to smash them and blow them up: "An operator commands this beast from a safe distance using a remote control unit. The hull of the robot is made up of hardened steel plates in a "V" shape to help limit any damage from antitank mines and unexploded shells of sizes up to 3 inches, and the D-3 has been able to successfully ingest mines containing as much as 17.6 pounds of explosive, which is nothing to sneeze at.". A video of the beast in action can be found here.
derGoldstein writes: Curtis Boirum of Bradley University has built a robot which uses a unique drive system: "The robot uses a simple two axis gimbal for movement, which houses a small brushless RC airplane motor. The motor spins a rubber wheel at high speeds, which propels the robot in any direction at the flick of a switch, thanks to a pair of RC servos. When the servos tilt the gimbal, they change which side of the wheel is touching the ground as well as the gear reduction, eliminating the need for a mechanical transmission or traditional steering mechanism. While he originally thought that he had invented the concept, [Curtis] found that this technology was nearly 100 years old, but that most people had forgotten about it."